• Thu
  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 6:36am
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

For Hongkongers, British National (Overseas) passport not worth the hassle

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 5:03am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 5:03am

The care with which we safeguard passports reflects the unnerving inconvenience of losing one. The need for such care grew amid the emphasis on the security and integrity of travel documents following the emergence of global terrorism. Security authorities are less understanding these days about the repeated loss or theft of passports that might fall into the wrong hands.

Renewing a passport is therefore an important ritual of identity. So imagine the incredulity among Hongkongers, accustomed to the reliable if bureaucratic ways of the Immigration Department when it comes to issuing SAR passports, at the mess the British passport office has got itself into over a backlog of 500,000 applications. It would have been accompanied by relief that Hong Kong no longer relies on the former colonial power to issue passports. But it was shortlived.

Holders of British National (Overseas) passports who want to renew their documents must submit all valid passports, including those issued by Hong Kong. SAR passport holders have now been denied the chance to travel because their documents are held up in the British bureaucracy for up to four months. The fiasco arises from the closure of British consulate passport offices, including the one in Hong Kong in December, and the repatriation of passport services. It was a cost-saving measure that has upset the travel plans of many.

Applicants can supply copies if a document is needed urgently, or apply for its early return. But it remains ridiculous that people have been grounded by a bureaucratic bungle. Inadequate planning for a surge in passport applications hardly seems a good enough excuse. British Home Secretary Theresa May rightly apologised. This should remind Britain that while some Hongkongers still value the BNO passport as an alternative document, they can't do without the SAR passport for long. It should also prompt them to consider whether they really need the BNO document, given the extent of the SAR passport's visa-free acceptance.

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This article is now closed to comments

ianhuayensee
Colonial powers like the French and the Brits, are good at divide and rule. They are also absolutely adept at double standards. "One country two systems" was actually invented by the Brits. In the UK there has been universal suffrage for more than 100 years, in the "Crown Colony of Hong Kong", what did we get? I don't know about the French, the Brits are masters of deception, we have racial discrimination, no we don't. The Falklanders are entitled to full British citizenship because they are white, the majority of people in HK are entitled to something which is clearly second class, called the BNO passport, because these people are Chinese. The British politicians are so blatant about it but they are not ashamed to say it. I remember the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw giving a speech at the Legco before 1997 and in response to Emily Lau's questions, he said that Britain had no obligations to Hong Kong. Any decent HK person would fume on hearing this. After having looted Hong Kong of so much for 150 years, for which Hong Kong people got BNO's and the rule of law, I was surprised a senior British minister had the audacity to make irresponsible remarks of this order. To hell with BNO's.
calyth
For all the folks who waves the Colonial flag, do yourself a favour, look up the 66' riots in HK; the Balfour Declaration / McMahon–Hussein Correspondence / Sykes–Picot Agreement on Israel / Palestine, and the partition of British India.
Oh, and just check how useful that BNO is. You couldn't even stay in Britain for more than half a year without a visa.
To hell with them BNO passports. It's a waste of money.
raymondspchu
I guess I found the reason why M. Thatcher fell on the steps of the Great Hall of People in Beijing after meeting with Dang. She just struck that great idea of letting Hong Kong people have BNO passports, other than the 50,000 or so loyal British subjects entitled to British Passports with right of abode in Britain.
keresearch
it actually gets u through the eu channel at all European airports....if u fly a lot that is a real benefit
rolftsui
There is no justification for the existence of the BN(O) passport whatsoever, let alone the five other classes of Passports on offer by the former colonial power of Britain. In the history of colonialism, no other Western Power offered such redundant travel documents and citizenship to any of its subjects. There was always a choice, to take on the Colonial power's citizenship or acquire the independent country's new citizenship. This act by the British was nothing but betrayal, arrogance and stubborn cowardice.
This shameful passport, the BN(O) should be relegated to history as an infamous pile of British manure!
george.ks.wong@gmail.com
The photo used in this article is a British Passport (has European Union on it), not a British National Overseas Passport.
SCMP, come on....
Mikado
For Hongkongers, British National (Overseas) passport which comes with no right of abode in Britain is nothing more than a British sham to sell something which is akin to opium to some. The British National (Overseas) passport is a badge of mindless slavery to British colonialism which some Hongkongers cling too like Charlie Brown and his towel.
rawlie
Wow... you've been quite active recently. Need some 'wumaos' for your summer trip to Beijing?
sudo rm -f cy
I have full citizenship from another of the Commonwealth countries, otherwise I'd go through ANYTHING to renew my (hypothetical) BNO passport. I'm seriously considering handing in a ID869 form someday.
ianhuayensee
You must be kidding. Of course I am being hypothetical.

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